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Fiction Biographical

My Name Is a Knife

by (author) Alix Hawley

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Jul 2018
Biographical, Literary, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2018
    List Price
  • CD-Audio

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price

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Following on All True Not a Lie in It, her brilliant, award-winning first novel, Alix Hawley brings us the dramatic end of fabled frontiersman Daniel Boone's story--a heartbreaking and powerful imagining of a crucial period in North American history.

The truth of it is that Daniel Boone, captured by the Shawnee, now the adopted son of a chief he respects and husband to a Shawnee wife, does not want to come back to his settler life. But when he learns the Shawnee and the English plan to attack the fort he founded, where his white wife and children remain, he escapes in order to warn them. No arms open to greet him, however: Rebecca has taken all of their children save one--Jemima--back east. The other settlers view him with suspicion, and some of them want him hanged as a traitor. Yet even his enemies know that nobody but Boone can save them in the brutal siege of the fort that is soon upon them, led by Blackfish, Boone's Shawnee father.
     Heartsick over the carnage, when the siege is over Boone travels east to retrieve his family. He finds a wife who has made a life for herself and their children, and still resents him for their oldest son's death. Slowly he woos her, until Rebecca finds herself following him back to Kentucky, to a new Boone settlement across the river from the old one. For a brief and peaceful time, Boone believes that maybe there's a way that indigenous and white can travel forward together, but inevitably he realizes that he can't control the juggernaut of hate and conquest that will soon roll over the Shawnee and the Cherokee. And he has to decide whether to simply be killed in the fighting, or to kill. In the tragic aftermath, Rebecca is left to wonder whether there is any way she can continue to love what remains of Boone.

About the author

ALIX HAWLEY studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Oxford University, the University of East Anglia, and the University of British Columbia. She is especially interested in nineteenth–century writing and children’s literature. The Old Familiar, her first collection, portrays the peculiarities we face in thinking we know other people.


Alix Hawley's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Hawley’s skillful prose makes this character come alive and, for me, outshine the iconic American frontiersman. Intriguing, uncompromising, bold and brave, this book is as intense and interesting as the Boones themselves.” —Suzanne Moutis, Canadian Living

“There’s a deeply uncomfortable tension between the action-movie adventure of Boone’s travelling tales and the historical depravity unfolding in real-time. Hawley’s masterful gifts as a storyteller render these contradictions all the more vivid and disturbing.” —Trevor Corkum, Toronto Star

“B.C. author Alix Hawley’s compelling new book is historical fiction with an edge.” —Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

“Alix Hawley is a marvel. I’d read anything she writes.” —Alison Pick, the Man Booker–nominated author of Far to Go and Strangers with the Same Dream
“All the beauty and violence of Hilary Mantel, Michael Ondaatje or Cormac McCarthy—yet these books are like no others. Alix Hawley’s tale of Daniel Boone is an elegy, a horror story, a breathtaking reminder of what settlers did here (and still do). Extraordinary.” —Sean Michaels, Scotiabank Giller Prize—winning author of Us Conductors
“History raw and bleeding, My Name Is a Knife is a superb sequel to the inside story of Daniel Boone begun in Alix Hawley’s first novel, as exciting as it is thoughtful. We’ll never see this American icon—and now, his wife, Rebecca—the same way again. Move over, James Fenimore Cooper: a woman has come to take your place.” —Nick Mount, author of Arrival: The Story of CanLit
“Hawley’s brilliant second novel is sensuous and philosophical, with artfully drawn characters and deep dives into the human consciousness. If you crossed the best of Michael Ondaatje with the best of Alice Munro, Alix Hawley is what you’d get.” —Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust and The Son

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